This presidential election year has shaped up to be something I never anticipated. A candidate I both distrust and disagree with on fundamental issues is running against a demagogue who is utterly unqualified by education, temperament or character to be President of the United States. I think the first is less bad than the second, so I’ll probably vote for Hillary Clinton. If there’s any real risk that Donald Trump might win the election, I will also campaign for her.
For those who don’t know me, my politics don’t fit in any of the usual buckets, but aren’t hard to describe if I focus on specific issues. I’m vehemently pro-life. I oppose abortion on demand because I believe it amounts to a “right” to murder helpless human beings whose existence is inconvenient. Abortions can also save lives in terrible situations, but the current free-for-all is unconscionable and intolerable. I oppose the death penalty because it is arbitrary, often cruel, and too often imposed on innocent people. Anybody who follows the work of the Innocence Project, or who has just been paying attention, knows the story.
I have an almost 40-year history of human and civil rights activism, with Amnesty International, other groups, and on my own. Former US President George W. Bush completely lost my support and good opinion after it became clear that he and his administration had used torture and murder of innocent people as tools in the “war on terror”. At the same time, I support an individual right to keep and bear arms, and oppose any laws that place a significant burden on the general public’s ability to exercise that right. I am a vehement supporter of first amendment rights, and a near absolute supporter of free speech. (Even for those who support torture and murder of innocents.) :/ I think “hate speech” laws are largely a violation of the first amendment.
On a more philosophical note, I generally distrust “big government” and look to private groups and local government wherever possible for solutions to economic and social problems. At the same time, I am no libertarian: I support a social safety net. I think it simply makes sense to set society up so that basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care are met when people cannot afford to pay for those things. Think of it as an insurance policy that allows people to start a business or take other worthwhile risks knowing that there is a limit to how far they can fall. We all benefit if people can take risks. We also all benefit if people aren’t ever forced to choose between crime or hunger/homelessness. Feeding the poor won’t end all crime, but it will reduce it considerably.
I loathe the modern phenomenon of identity politics; I think it’s racist/sexist/bigoted to treat individual human beings as if their most important characteristic was their race, gender, ethnic group, or nationality. I’m a political independent both because no party is “my party” to any significant degree, and because I find the whole business of joining a party and putting “the party” ahead of myself or other people obnoxious and wrongheaded.
As you can imagine, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump appeals to me in the least. Despite significant disagreements with her on major issues, though, I’ll vote for Hillary Clinton unless a miracle happens and a better candidate appears. If there’s any reasonable chance that Donald Trump might win, I’ll also campaign for her.
The math adds up differently for others, but any way you look at it the Republican Party is in danger of loosing many of its core supporters. A friend in Texas who is a lifelong conservative blogged that the Republican Party had left him. My husband, who loathes Hillary Clinton as a corrupt, entitled politician who has no respect for the US Constitution, thinks he’d prefer Donald Trump, but he is not happy and has largely given up on the political party he once vehemently supported. (We’re used to cancelling each other’s votes out, fortunately.) One of my brothers, who spent most of his adult career working for the US government and considers himself conservative, left the Republican party a few years ago. A friend, ditto and ditto.
Quite a few Democrats I know are rejoicing as they watch the Republican Party turn on itself. Some are too basically decent to do it in the faces of people who normally support Republicans. Many are not. A few wiser and more long-sighted ones are not happy, though. They know that America needs a functioning conservative political establishment as a counterfoil to a functioning liberal political establishment. Right now it doesn’t have one.
As for the rest of us, well, sometimes there just are no good choices.